April 14, 2011

STLQ on Permanent Hiatus

.: As it has been over two years since my last post, it is evident that STLQ's time has come to an end. I want to thank everyone who has followed my posts here since the blog began in April 2003. I continue to maintain my personal blog, The Pod Bay Door, should you wish to follow me there.

Thanks again, everyone!

March 4, 2009

Perhaps The Final Word on Availability of Bulk Chemical Prices

.: As many of you know, I've been waging a campaign for the past three years with ICIS Chemical Business in hopes that it would maintain and update the bulk chemical prices from 28 August 2006, which was the last time these prices were published in what was then known as Chemical Market Reporter. Selected prices had been updated for 2007 and 2008, and I recently wrote to Simon Robinson, Online Editor for ICIS.com, and asked if updates were forthcoming for 2009. Simon wrote back to confirm that this will not be happening, unfortunately. He wrote:

As you say it is that time of year again that your students start putting their design projects together. I am glad that you find the August 2006 numbers useful. We did up date them last year, but as I am sure that you realise 2009 promises to be a very tough year in the chemical sector and also for information providers to that sector. As such we can’t really promise to update the numbers this year, or fill in the holes that you have found in the database on our site. This is because our resources are going to be fully committed elsewhere.
Regarding my ongoing concern that chemical engineering students are and remain ICIS' future customers, and that consideration must be given to them accordingly, he wrote:
I appreciate that Chemical Engineering students are the seed corn that will ensure the chemical industry’s success in the future and are potential long term customers for ICIS products. However, they are not existing customers, and if 2009 is going to be about anything for companies operating in the chemicals sector it will be about servicing the information needs of our existing subscribers.

I thank Simon and Penny Wilson, his predecessor, for keeping the lines of communication open with me for the past three years as we worked to try to solve this very serious concern.

I hope that you will understand the hard commercial reality in which we operate, as part of a multinational company.

I wrote back to Simon, and expressed my disappointment in his response. I noted that these bulk chemical prices are the only resource for access to such data for chemical engineering students. I did thank him for keeping the dialogue between us open and honest, and asked if the ICIS Students site would be maintained, along with the 28 August 2006 price list, for the time being. He wrote:
Thanks for you kind and understanding reply. It is tough in the world of business at the moment and like other companies we’re looking at our cost base. That said, since the indicative prices are up on the website now, there is little danger of them coming down in the foreseeable future. I am not certain, though, that there will be enough resource here to update them this year or in the future. I realise that these numbers give your students the feel of a real life project, but this year some chemical prices have gyrated wildly and almost no price indications would have given them the certainty that a project would be profitable by completion. .

We are unlikely to significantly extend the students site beyond its current scope. But we are upgrading our ICIS connect site which might be a good place for your students to interact and ask questions of the industry directly.

So while I'm disheartened with ICIS' decision to no longer update the August 2006 prices, I am grateful to Simon for confirming that the Indicative Prices page will remain on the ICIS site for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, we as engineering librarians will need to find other bulk chemical pricing resources for our chemical engineering students, which could prove to be very difficult indeed.

December 22, 2008

SPIE to Launch Open-Access Journal in 2009

.: SPIE has announced it will be launching a new open-access title, SPIE Reviews, in January 2009. From the SPIE press release:

December 12, 2008 -- SPIE announced today the launch in mid-2009 of the new open-access journal SPIE Reviews under the editorship of William T. Rhodes. The new journal will publish original, in-depth review articles on emerging and evolving fields in applied optics and photonics of use to researchers as well as industry innovators.

"Articles will serve both as valuable overviews of significant new technologies and as portals to the primary literature in those areas for practitioners, researchers, and students." Dr. Rhodes said. "The optics community has long needed a good journal of review articles. I am extremely pleased that SPIE is launching this new publication, and doubly pleased because it comes at no cost to readers or authors." Rhodes is a professor of electrical engineering and Associate Director of the Imaging Technology Center at Florida Atlantic University, and Emeritus Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Please see the full press release here.

December 17, 2008

ticTOCs - Journal Tables of Contents Service

.: From an e-mail received today from Roddy MacLeod:

Keeping up-to-date with the scholarly literature just became much easier, thanks to a new service called ticTOCs - Journal Tables of Contents Service.


ticTOCs is a new scholarly journal tables of contents (TOCs) service. It’s free, its easy to use, and it provides access to the most recent tables of contents of over 11,000 scholarly journals from more than 400 publishers. It helps scholars, researchers, academics and anyone else keep up-to-date with what’s being published in the most recent issues of journals on almost any subject.

Using ticTOCs, you can find journals of interest by title, subject or publisher, view the latest TOC, link through to the full text of over 250,000 articles (where institutional or personal subscriptions, or Open Access, allow), and save selected journals to MyTOCs so that you can view future TOCs (free registration is required if you want to permanently save your MyTOCs). ticTOCs also makes it easy to export selected TOC RSS feeds to popular feedreaders such as Google Reader and Bloglines, and in addition you can import article citations into RefWorks (where institutional or personal subscriptions allow).

You select TOCs by ticking those of interest - thousands of TOCs, within a tick or two (hence the name ticTOCs).

ticTOCs has been funded under the JISC Users & Innovations programme, and has been developed by an international consortium consisting of the University of Liverpool Library (lead), Heriot-Watt University, CrossRef, ProQuest, Emerald, RefWorks, MIMAS, Cranfield University, Institute of Physics, SAGE Publishers, Inderscience Publishers, DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals), Open J-Gate, and Intute.

For the full press release, please see: http://tictocsnews.wordpress.com/2008/12/11/scholarly-journals-new-free-service-makes-keeping-up-to-date-easy/

November 21, 2008

Calling Canada's librarians - the Canadian Public Domain needs you!

.: From the Creative Commons Canada site:

Access Copyright (The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency) and Creative Commons Canada, in partnership with Creative Commons Corp. and the Wikimedia Foundation, invite Canada's library community to help us test the Canadian Public Domain Registry beta website.

The ground-breaking project – the most comprehensive of its kind in Canada – will create an online, globally searchable catalogue of published Canadian literary works. The Registry's integrated rights calculator allows users to automatically determine each work's copyright status on an evolving basis. The Registry will also link to digital versions of the work and provide information about where a paper-copy can be purchased, when available.

In essence, we're building a public domain library and that's why we need you (Canada's librarians) to help test our beta website and ensure the Registry is ready for the public-at-large. We also invite leaders in the library community to get involved with charting a course for its future. Any amount of participation is helpful and welcome.

Please contact us now, we will reply with further instructions, directions to the beta test website and the secret password.

What: Canadian Public Domain Registry beta test
When: October 15 - December 15, 2008
Who: The Canadian Library community
Where: Contact marcus@creativecommons.ca for details


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  • About

    Welcome to STLQ, the SciTech Library Question, a blog with random postings of interest to scitech librarians I am Randy Reichardt, Research Services Librarian (RSL) (Engineering), at the University of Alberta. Occasional contributors include:
      - Geoff Harder, U of Alberta
      - George Porter, CalTech
      - Dana Roth, CalTech
  • Any and all posts are strictly the views, observations or opinions of the authors, and do not reflect the views of their employers.
  • Contact: randy[at]podbaydoor[dot]com, if you have any questions or feedback. Thanks - Randy Reichardt
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